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Document Details :
Subtitle: An Ethical Analysis of Social Policies for the Harvesting of Transplantable Organs
Author(s): ARISTONDO, Juan
Volume: 56 Issue: 3 Date: 1995
In the context of organ donation and transplantation, societies are facing an increasing shortage. Several policies have been developed for the overcoming of such a deficit, mainly 'Opting-In', 'Opting-Out', and 'Required Request'. We believe that, as regards this opting between social policies for harvesting, moral theology has an opinion to share with other thinkers and with the decision-makers of our society. In order to present our Christian view, we start with considering the reasons that make us capable of using the remains of a human person after death, the corpse. We see how every human being holds a right for respect of the remains of his/her former body, the corpse, but other human beings with equal dignity may be compelled to use those remains when their right at stake is of a higher rank, even in case that use goes against the due respect. In this line of thought two moral principles will be sorted out, showing the axis of our evaluation of the different policies, namely the 'benefit of the patients in need of transplantation' and a threefold 'consent', the consent of the deceased, the consent of his/her family, and the consent of his/her society. Analyzing the main strategies for harvesting transplantable organs currently applied through this set of criteria, we see how a sort of 'Routine Salvaging' and a type of 'Informed-Consent' in which we do not perform a wide campaign of education and conscientization, are to be rejected. The remaining types of policies were to be evaluated in each case. We position ourselves in favor of the 'Required Request', holding that it is preferable to ask the question directly than to presume any sort of behavior, whether it be for or against donation. Secondly, we consider that policies following the 'Opting-Out' style may obtain a higher degree of moral righteousness than the ones based on an 'Opting-In policy. In each of them, however, nuances are to be stressed and complementary systems developed, up to the point in which none of them can be enforced alone.